What is Considered a Felony in Miami?

As Florida law stipulates, crimes are placed into two categories: felonies or misdemeanors. While misdemeanors typically have less significant penalties or effect on your life, a felony charge is a serious matter. It can affect your life in many ways for years to come.

In addition to life felonies or compatible felonies, which may carry punishments of death or life in prison, there are three levels of felonies in Florida: first-degree, second-degree, and third-degree. First-degree felonies can include up to thirty years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.

Second-degree felonies can include up to 15 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines. Third-degree felonies are the least serious of the felonies and may result in up to five years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines.

What Are Common Felony Offenses?

Felonies can range from aggravated assault to murder and much more.

Aggravated assault is an assault that occurs with the presence or use of a deadly weapon.

Child abuse can lead to several different levels of felonies, from capital to third-degree, and is considered emotional, physical, or sexual abuse, as well as neglect or abandonment by a parent or caregiver.

Drug trafficking can lead to multiple levels of charges, including felony. The punishment will be relative to the amount of drugs or the class of drugs that are being trafficked.

Murder or kidnapping may lead to different levels of felonies, from capital to third-degree.

Sexual assault, including forced penetration, child sexual abuse, inappropriate touching, and more, can result in a felony.

Burglary or Grand Theft can also lead to a felony charge, whether it be first-degree, second or third.

Florida Criminal Punishment Code

In Florida, there is a Criminal Punishment Code that allows relative parties to assign a point value to the charges being brought against a person. Prior arrests, primary offenses, and additional offenses are also reviewed and can add to the points, increasing the level of charges that may be brought. 

Other factors that are considered are firearm or weapons violations, the injuries any victims sustained due to illegal activity, legal status violations, or any previous felonies. These facts will be used to add additional points to determine the baseline for the charges.

Other Consequences of a Felony Charge

Not only do felonies carry significant prison time or fines, but having a felony on your record means it’s there to stay and cannot be expunged. The effect this can have on the rest of your life is significant.

You may find it hard to obtain gainful employment, rent a house, get mortgages or loans, and more. You may also be prohibited from attending specific colleges or other training programs in the future.

Some of your civil rights may be affected as well, such as the loss of the right to own a firearm or to vote.

Alternative Sentences for Felony Charges

Probation is a commonly used alternative form of sentencing for criminals. It allows the offender to remain in the community and participate in society while under a required program that may include check-ins, gainful employment, drug tests, and more.

House arrest is another option in Florida for alternative sentencing. House arrest includes the offender being monitored around the clock via an ankle monitor to ensure they are going to work and returning home rather than conducting further illegal activity.

Lesser Charges May Be an Option

It’s important to note that judges have some discretion with charges and punishments. An alternative for a low-risk offender may be drug or alcohol treatment rather than a full sentence. Once successfully completed, they may be released or have reduced charges.

Similarly, mental health options may apply in that if an offender is misdiagnosed or undiagnosed and needs mental health help, a judge may order that this occur rather than (or in addition to) prison time. This help may lead to a reduction in sentences or charges.

Veteran treatment courts also exist in nearly thirty states, and Florida is one of them. Punishments can be deferred for low-risk offenders based on their current or prior years of service contributing to drug or alcohol abuse or mental health issues that led to their criminal behavior.

Pre-trial Diversion

Pre-trial diversion (PTD) is “an alternative to prosecution offered by the Miami Dade County State Attorney’s office,” according to the Miami State Attorney’s Office.

Offenders can enter the program voluntarily, and if they successfully complete the program, which includes significant life changes, and avoid being arrested during the program, there is a chance that the charges against them will be dropped or significantly lessened as a result. The idea is that the offender is armed with a different set of skills and a lifestyle change that will allow them to avoid further involvement in criminal activity.

Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyers, an Invaluable Asset to Protecting Your Future

As experienced criminal defense lawyers, we are well-versed in charges and penalties in Florida and have fiercely defended several clients over the years. We become your strongest ally, walk you through your options, and help you to navigate the complex criminal system.

Don’t entrust your future with just anyone; rely on a proven skillset that has helped countless clients achieve the best result possible in the face of serious charges.

Contact our office today at (786) 933-6242 to learn more. Our clients range from those facing habitual offense situations to first-time offenders and everything from a simple drug charge to capital murder. We look forward to serving you.